SDL Acquires Language Weaver, Adds Statistical Machine Translation to Portfolio

3 minute read
Barb Mosher Zinck avatar


SDL (newssite) adds to their translation capabilities with the acquisition of Language Weaver, a provider of SaaS-based statistical machine translation. What does this acquisition mean for SDL's global information management platform?

The Need to Translate Content

As one of the most well known providers of global information content management, SDL spends a lot of time and energy ensuring their solution meets the needs of today's market. According to SDL CEO Mark Lancaster, about 80% of web content is available in English, but that number will decrease to about 20% in a few years.

If that's true, then companies are going to need a way to quickly and easily translate their content. SDL has already made a number of changes to their solutions to support this growing need:

Adding Machine Translation to the Table

The acquisition of Language Weaver for US$ 42.5 million (£28.2 million) -- subject to some adjustments -- will place SDL in a position to provide both human and machine generated translation capabilities within their solutions.

SDL provided statistics to prove the growing importance of machine generated translation in a recent survey: 2009 Automated Translation Survey. The survey revealed that 28% of the surveyed organizations are either using or planning to use automated translation, a 5% increase since the inaugural version of the survey, but that 76% were concerned about quality. However, it was also revealed that when coupled with human post-editing capabilities, 57% would adopt automated translation.

And this is where SDL is likely to find its strength, the combination of the machine translation from Language Weaver, coupled with its existing human translation capabilities will support the needs of organizations and waylay their concerns over automated translation. 

In fact, the two companies have already integrated their solutions for several joint customers. So this is not something new SDL will be trying to do, it's simply an extension that brings all the capabilities directly in-house. Lancaster said, "Within the next 5 years we expect over 30% of all translated content to utilize machine translation in the process of translating one Language to another."

Learning Opportunities

What Happens to Language Weaver?

Based out of Los Angeles, CA, Language Weaver employs 96 staff across the US, Europe and Japan. A close relationship with the Information Sciences Institute of the University of Southern California, has helped the company further their research and make their translation methods better. Language Weaver will continue to operate a separate business unit, reporting to the SDL CEO.

Both the founders of Language Weaver, Daniel Marcu and Kevin Knight, and Language Weavers current CEO Mark Tapling will stay with the business. There are no expected redundancies at this point. Tapling said of the acquisition, " The SDL acquisition significantly expands Language Weaver’s ability to address the problem sets that the team tackles, to bring to market unique high-value machine translation products and solutions."

SDL already has the SDL Enterprise Translation Server (ETS). This solution is a rules-based translation system and SDL says it will continue to sell and service it. It is a complimentary solution to Language Weaver's technology. In addition, SDL is still committed to "customer choice" and will integrate with other machine translation engines based on the customer's decision. 

To learn more about this acquisition, SDL is holding a webinar today at 8am PT/11 ET.